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Last Updated: 06/20/18

Vocabularies for Biobanking

Medical research requires large-scale data integration on institutional, inter-institutional, and international levels. The data annotation accompanying human specimens is an important part of that data integration challenge. Research institutions often operate multiple biobanks to fulfill diverse research needs and they may use different data representation and schemata. A biobanking ontology is a formal naming and definition of biobanking terms, procedures and protocols that can enable the effective integration of biobank-related data. Utilizing and/or harmonizing on pre-existing ontological representations may allow for linking of data from biobanks to other biological and biomedical data repositories. Ontologies are also very important for translational research because of the capability to link data across other disciplines from basic science to clinical research.

The Open Biological and Biomedical Ontology (OBO) Foundry External Link is a collective of ontologies with a mission to develop ontologies that are logically well-formed and scientifically accurate. Within the OBO is the Ontology for Biobanking (OBIB), which was created for the annotation and modeling of biobank repository and biobank management. BBRB, in collaboration with the NCI Center for Biomedical Informatics and Information Technology (CBIIT) and the OBIB consortium, has worked to create standard terminology and definitions (vocabularies) for biospecimen collection throughout a project life cycle. These vocabularies were used throughout the biospecimen collection and clinical data management that supported the Biospecimen Preanalytical Variables (BPV) and Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) projects. They are now available to the public on the following databases:

NCI Cancer Data Standards Registry and Repository (caDSR)

NIH Common Data Elements (CDE) library

Ontology for Biobanking (OBIB) External Link